Heroin Facts Launch Materials

The following information can be disseminated in a manner that you feel is most appropriate for your congregation. Suggested methods may be as part of your sermon, presented by a guest speaker, included in your service’s announcements, inserted in your bulletin, etc … or a combination of these suggested methods. The information can also be provided in your bulletins, emails, websites, etc. throughout the month of October, with your congregation encouraged to participate in the discussion of the identified topic. This information can be provided to you electronically upon request.

All information will be posted online; your congregation can visit the Safe Communities Coalition website and select the One Voice tab for additional information and resources atwww.safecoalition.org.

Heroin Facts

  • Heroin is a powerful illegal drug made from morphine (a form of opiate). It affects the same region of the brain as opioid pain medication. Opioids relieve pain by reducing the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affecting those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. *

  • Many in recovery state they became addicted to pain meds (opioids) and then moved to heroin because it was much cheaper and easier to get.

  • While the United States represents 5% of the world population, we consume 80% of the world supply of prescription opioid pain medicine and 99% of Vicodin (Hydrocodone).

  • 80% of heroin users reported using prescription opiates prior to using heroin. However; heroin users tend to be frequent users of multiplesubstances (e.g. marijuana, cocaine, alcohol). *

  • Opioid pain medication like OxyContin and Vicodin used to be prescribed for end-of-life patients or a couple of days after major surgery; however due to many factors including societal expectations of living ‘pain free’, they are now prescribed for more routine procedures.

  • The pain associated with minor surgeries like wisdom teeth extraction or appendectomy has not changed; however, the strength of the pain medications that are being prescribed have dramatically increased.

  • Hunterdon County had 40 Heroin overdoses reported by law enforcement in 2015, as compared to 12 in 2014. This represents a 333% increase in just one year. In 2016, 32 have been reported to law enforcement, 30 Heroin Opiate related.

(*) – NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2015)

What is being done in our community?

  • There are now 10 permanent Rx drop off boxes in Hunterdon County. These boxes have been installed so that residents can dispose of expired or unused medications, eliminating the availability of drugs and increasing the safety of their home and community.

  • Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon/Somerset created an educational documentary called From Pills to Heroin, a 13-minute film that educates the community. The film is available by visiting www.safecoalition.org.

  • DEA National Rx Take Back Day is held twice a year. Upcoming is October 22, 2016 from 10:00am – 2:00pm. For information: www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback.

  • START packages (Steps to Action, Recovery and Treatment) – Package with resources for people who are in the critical window of time between release from treatment or incarceration to get the help to prevent relapse. Distributed by Safe Communities Coalition, in partnership with the Prosecutor’s Office, Hunterdon Health Care, and the Hunterdon County Chiefs of Police Association.

  • Hunterdon Medical Center Emergency Department dispenses short term prescriptions only for opiates when indicated for acute pain. (no more than 2-3 days worth of medication to hold patient over until they are seen by a specialist or PCP).

  • Narcan Administrations – Narcan (Naloxone) blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication. Naloxone is used to treat a heroin or opioid overdose in an emergency situation.

  • Hunterdon County Recovery Support Center – This is a place where anyone in recovery can come feel safe and be supported in sober living with others in recovery. Located at the Family Success Center in Flemington, which is managed by Hunterdon Prevention Resources.

  • Prevention Education in schools – Agencies such as Hunterdon Prevention Resources provide prevention education for K-12 in the Hunterdon County schools.

  • NJ PMP (Prescription Monitoring Program) – is a statewide database that collects prescription data dispensed in outpatient settings in New Jersey, and by out-of-state pharmacies dispensing into New Jersey. The NJ PMP enables prescribers and pharmacists to obtain accurate information on patients’ prescription history, from an online database that pharmacies update at least twice per month.The information reported to and made available through the NJ PMP will help detect individuals who may be “doctor shopping”.


  • Faith: personal prayer, seek out faith leaders, support groups within places of worship.

  • Coping Skills: classes such as Strengthening Families, Unifying Families, Stress Reduction, Life Skills, etc. – gain coping and communication skills to manage life’s stressors. http://www.hunterdonprevention.com.

  • Counseling: Student Assistance Counselors at schools (SACS). Visit NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services:https://njsams.rutgers.edu/dastxdirectory/txdirmain.htm.

  • There are no ‘safe’ substances for coping. Recognize the use of gateway drugs such as alcohol or marijuana for coping before a person moves on to heroin/Rx.

  • Reduce Stigma of Addiction: Addiction does not discriminate. We need to come together as communities do in times of crisis (e.g. Hurricane Sandy).

  • The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) set out to enlist the help of one key player in the fight against opiate abuse – PARENTS. PDFNJ is addressing this issue with “Before They Prescribe – You Decide™” campaign. This campaign is geared at educating parents on the link between prescribed prescription pain medicine and heroin abuse and encouraging and empowering them to speak to their doctor or dentist about the potential addictive qualities of pain medicine prescribed, as well as possible alternatives to opioids that are appropriate.http://www.drugfree.org/heroin

  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) developed and published the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide recommendations for the prescribing of opioid pain medication for patients 18 and older in primary care settings.http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/guideline.html

  • Recognize Warning Signs of Heroin/Opiate addiction.

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